To Do lists seem to be the bane of many entrepreneurs existences! It is funny that so many people struggle with these since they are just words, but honestly they are more than that. They are our hopes and dreams, committed to paper.
The Time Problem
So why are to do lists so hard? First off, it is because we don't associate the time needed to DO a To Do with the line item. It is as if we enter some other dimension where we think time is limitless and we can actually ACCOMPLISH all the things that we want to do to move our businesses or lives forward.
Having worked with hundreds of people on their time management, I frequently see that they put an item like “set up website” on one line for one day (oh and they have lots of other things also on that day).
Overcommitting to what we can accomplish in a day (or week or month) leads to the next problem…
The Failure Problem
One of my favorite mastermind partners, Kirsten of Food, Fitness, Finance and Fun used to have to do lists with upwards of 50 items on it every day. Each morning she would get up and see that HUGE list of things to do and gamely start in on it.
Of course she could never get everything done so she failed. Every day. For years.
The thing to know is that she is a successful, driven, and productive author, saleswoman and business owner, but you would never know it in her mind. In her mind every day was a loss, she didn't accomplish all the things that she set out to do.
The To Do List Solution
There is a way to fix this problem once and for all! You just need to have a system for getting all the To Dos you want to do out of your head and into some kind of manageable order. This is my solution…
The first thing that you need to do is a brain dump of all the things that you would like to accomplish between now and eternity. If a thought about something that you want to do pops into your head, it goes on the Wish List.
Do not try to sort these into any kind of order, they are just wishes of things that you would like to do someday when you have the time.
DO NOT let your brain stop you from adding things or start doing the “organizing game”. It is perfectly fine to nestle “clean out the bathroom cabinet” under “design a new brochure”.
I LOVE David Allen and his book, Getting Things Done, in which he says that you have to have everything written down on a separate piece of paper and put into a separate folder.
That seems good, but I have SO many things that are never going to get done or see the light of day that I really don't want to have to manage them or revisit them in a couple of years when I clean out my filing cabinet (like Ghosts of Ideas Past) so I just put them all in on big long line.
This is my current Wish List.
It has lots of different things, some that are quick and accomplishable today (like promoting my appearance on the ConvoMe Podcast) and some are truly epic and would take a good long time like starting a Podcast Guest Program with my assistant. There are some about cleaning my son's room and some that are interesting for me for my business.
The thing about this system that makes me the happiest is that I don't wind up blurting out everything that is in my head to my husband or my assistant. If I am thinking it and not writing it down to get into some kind of order, then I say things that freak them out, but telling them make me feel better that I shared it with someone. Not good.
Additionally, if I had all this stuff from my head on an actual To Do List, I would feel like I had to DO something about every one of those things right now. But this is just a friendly little list that I COULD do, sometime in the future, maybe.
Moving Things To A Monthly To Do List
Some of the things on that Wish List I really do want or need to do AND I need to get them into some kind of more manageable order than they are in now. So I put them onto one or the other kind of monthly To Do worksheets that I use.
The first thing I do is figure out the focus of the To Do. For my business I have things primarily broken down into 3 Focuses:
- Marketing Artfully – My main company, blog post ideas, new courses and services go here
- PaperlyPeople – My time management, forms and systems subdivision and product line
- WorkNecklaces – My store where I sell physical goods, necklaces
You could break this down differently. For example, if you are in direct sales you might have Parties, Downline and Admin. For Realtors you might have Buyers, Sellers and Marketing. It doesn't matter how I do it, you need to organize your focuses in a way that makes sense to you!
I then use a couple of different kinds of sheets depending on what the To Do is. For something like “Promote Stagers Webinar” I don't have to have multiple steps, I can do that easily in one go. But for Webinar Sales Funnel I might like to have lines for some of the steps that I would have to do like:
- Watch FK Training
- Get LeadPages
- Record Videos
I use a Bullet Journal system to show whether a task is complete, open, moved somewhere else or in progress.
Moved is a little side arrow! This allows me to see at a glance when I am reviewing my To Dos where I am in the process of each item.
Daily To Dos
This way I have a small list of things I can actually ACCOMPLISH today (or by tomorrow at least) and I leave the overwhelming giant Wish List all by itself, knowing that I have captured the idea, but that I don't have to DO anything about it in the near future.
Here is a video walkthrough if you want to see how this one works!
I have to say that using the daily To Do list has resulted in me accomplishing and finishing more tasks in a week than most entrepreneurs get done in a month.
Get The Kit!
Simply follow along with the different forms, used how they work best for YOU and stop the madness.
The Business To Do List System Includes FOUR Printable Planner pages, Wish List, Monthly To Dos, Working Monthly To Dos, and the Daily Planner page.